Amphibious Trilogies

Nosing towards ice breaking futures

Plans are underway to create a new ice cleared deep water harbour closer to the coast at Mudyug Island on the Dvina Delta down stream from Arkhangelsk. Allegedly to be built by a Chinese company, the Northern Sea Route seems to be set to overcome icebound history and offer passage points in the wider passage between Russia’s far west and far east.

In the mid-winter ice of March of this year the nuclear-powered Sevmorput, the largest ship ever to navigate these waters, nosed its way into the terminal port of Ekonomiya on the Dvina down river from Arkhangelsk (source: The Independent Barents Observer).

This is a container ship that symbolically marks the sheer scale of movement of materials that the NSR is set to enact. The scale here is from atoms to container sized modules assembled onboard.

Revived from earlier work between Northern Sea Route ports prior to the new policy, this is currently the largest nuclear powered container ship in the world. This passage is possible because of nuclear power. Yet this very ship has a chequered history it is reported due to perceptions of the safety of its powerhouse. Ecological arguments tend towards discussion about and planning for oil spills in icy waters.

An extended choreography of goods and services is elaborately underway in the upper reaches of the globe where nuclear powered shipping has ‘a half-century life’ already. Perhaps we should know more about it as it continues to power our passages through the ice, even when it melts these vessels will be the ploughs of Arctic futures.

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